A 22-year-old man pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges he critically wounded a 4-year-old boy while shooting at a group of men in an unincorporated area of East Compton.
Luis Julian Beltran Perez faces multiple counts of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle in connection with an incident that took place Wednesday outside a liquor store, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Officials said in a statement.
Perez and two associates confronted two other men in front of the store, near the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Compton Boulevard, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. Prosecutors say the argument stemmed from the men’s differing gang associations.
Perez allegedly escalated the physical altercation, retrieving a gun and shooting at the group, prosecutors said.
A 4-year-old boy was struck in the head by one of the stray bullets while sitting in the back of his mother’s car heading westbound on Compton Boulevard, deputies said.
The boy was listed in stable condition as of Wednesday night. Sheriff’s officials have since said deputies’ quick thinking at the scene could have saved his life but were unable to provide an update in regard to his condition.
Perez was arrested in connection with the incident the next day, officials said.
The felony complaint includes a special allegation that Perez is responsible for intentionally discharging his firearm, causing great bodily injury.
Prosecutors also contend the shooting was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang with the specific intent to promote, further and assist in criminal conduct by gang members.
Perez is being held on $9.07 million bail and is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on June 23, according to inmate records.
He faces a maximum possible sentence of life in state prison if convicted as charged, officials said.